In The Absence of Nightmares

In The Absence of Nightmares

It was the loud pop of burning wood that brought him to.

He started slightly, his eyes flying open to fall upon the comforting blaze in the fireplace. He relaxed.

He began to stretch, but froze when he registered a weight upon him that was not his own.

He looked down.

Curled up into his side, one arm draped across his chest, lay the love of his life, fast asleep.

Her long, curly hair was down, hiding the upper half of her face. Her lips were parted slightly, and her chest rose and fell with even breaths.

He softened at the sight, adjusting his position to ensure she was more comfortable.

He smiled, noting that while she had let her beautiful hair down, she still wore her corseted sapphire silk dress from the ball. Her feet were tucked up into her voluminous skirt.

His smile saddened when he remembered just how long it had been since she’d last slept like this. Her nightmares had taken months to recede.

And even if the nightmares were to one day disappear entirely, the physical evidence of those nightmares would remain.

He involuntarily glanced down again, his gaze skimming the uncharacteristically modest neckline of her dress. A slight puckering of the soft, plump skin there was the only indication of the hideous brand burnt over her heart.

The dagger-shaped brand that matched the one on his own chest.

His breath caught, and he forced the invading memories from his mind. He reached for his sleeping lover. His anchor in a world tainted by nightmares. Out of long-established habit, his hand came to rest on her waist.

She shifted in her sleep. Her hand came to rest over his heart. Over his brand. Her fingers curled loosely into her palm.

He smiled, wrapping her delicate fist in his larger one.

His thigh, trapped underneath her, had long since lost feeling, and he winced slightly, gently adjusting himself once more.

His lover was a comparatively light weight, but she was still an unconscious grown woman.

He didn’t mind though.

He rested his chin atop her curly head and closed his eyes. The gentle, rhythmic sound of her breathing was the only noise in the room besides the subdued crackle of the fire.

So he held her, resting gratefully by her side in the absence of their nightmares.

He wouldn’t wake her for the world.

By Helen Cryestira Viorel, October 10th, 2019

Artwork by Pexels

The Ghost Who Walks In Candlelight ~ A Poem

Author’s Note: Happy Halloween to all the lovely mortals, immortals and undead! ~ H

The Ghost Who Walks In Candlelight ~ A Poem

Upon mountains carved by dragon’s flight

Shrouded in late October’s night

Within a castle torn by nature’s bite

Walks a lady-ghost all clad in white

She walks as a wandering angel might

In ever-burning candlelight

No deadly creature of the night

Her undead heart quite free of blight

Upon every Halloween night

The ghost who walks in candlelight

Fills her castle’s halls with light

The light of ghostly candles bright

To mortals watching in the night

A ghostly figure slim and slight

Flits here and there like a spectral sprite

Filling her home with candlelight

Although her dress is always white

Her hair seems made of candlelight

Her golden locks seem to ignite

Whenever she walks in candlelight

An owl glides softly through the night

Swooping down to here alight

On the walls of a castle so very bright

Where a lady walks in candlelight

And moths enamoured by the light

Fly forth in flocks of silk-winged flight

To roam the castle to the delight

Of the ghost who walks in candlelight

And before November dawn’s first light

The lady-ghost clad all in white

Will fill her last October’s night

With a thousand candles’ radiant light.

By Helen Cryestira Viorel, October 31, 2019

Artwork by DarkWorkX

Song In My Head ~ A Poem

There was always that one song

Stuck in my head

That one song combating

My whirlpool of dread

If I had just this one song

Stuck in my head

I could withstand anything

That anyone said

But God forbid

That my dear song should fade

Because when it did

Each word was a blade

Driving like poison

Straight through my heart

And I’d just cry and wait

For the song to restart

And everything’s better

With a song in my head

Because then I could dance

Even if I bled

Bled out my heart

With music in my soul

Because the song in my head

Somehow kept me whole

Dancing alone

To the song in my head

And I can’t really hear

What’s now being said

Dancing and singing

To the song in my head

The music’s my life

When the whole world seems dead

Singing aloud now

The song in my head

It’s always the same song

That’s stuck in my head

It’s the same song you sang me

All those years ago

And you asked me to dance

And I couldn’t say no

After all when I listen

To the song in my head

I’m dancing with you

And you’re no longer dead.

– by Helen Cryestira Viorel, 8th October, 2019

Artwork by fernando zhiminaicela

The Forgotten Library

This is highly inadvisable, thought the royal espionage student sprinting soundlessly down the hall.

The adrenaline of the moment, however, brooked no hesitation, and quelled any consideration for later regret.

“Rosa!”

Rosa didn’t turn at the panicked call of her colleague, or even turn around. He knew what he was getting into when he followed her.

“Rosa! They’ll see you!” Allan hissed again, trotting on tiptoe in an attempt to keep up with her and simultaneously avoid making any sound as he moved. A single footstep would echo with amplified resonance in these vast, empty halls.

Rosa, being barefoot, ran on ahead, unhindered by the heavy boots Allan wore. She’d left hers in her quarters for this exact reason. She glanced over her shoulder at the poor boy with an innocent smile.

Allan shook his head vehemently at her, his blonde curls bouncing.

Rosa ignored his attempt to dissuade her. She stopped running abruptly, her hand resting on one of the massive marble pillars that rose at regular intervals on either hand along the length of the enormous hall. The polished, grey-veined white marble was cool and smooth under her palm. She bit her lip to allay her triumphant grin, rapidly counting the pillars starting from the one she was touching and ending with the ones flanking the archway leading deeper into the castle.

Allan caught up with her then, his cheeks flushed from running and frustration. “Rosa!” he exclaimed for the third time.

Rosa gave him a significant look.

Allan sighed. “Please let me convince you to abandon this ridiculous endeavour?”

Rosa tapped her chin in mock reconsideration. Her dark red eyes sparkled at him. “No.” she said promptly.

Allan ran a hand through his golden mane and muttered, “I thought as much.”

Rosa returned her attention to the pillar, by now certain that it was the fourteenth one from the outer entrance to the hall, and the sixteenth from the inner archway. She dropped to kneel at the pillar’s base.

Allan watched her, half irritated, half curious. “What are you doing now?” he asked.

The base of the pillar was a sturdy block of carved marble, sinking like an anchor into the hall’s floor, which was made of a darker grey marble. While the towering pillar was thick enough to fit a large man inside it, the edges of the squared base were wide enough to sit on. Rosa ran her fingertips along the block, searching for something out of the ordinary and neglecting to answer Allan’s query.

Allan, attuned to her narrow focus and short attention span, knelt beside her and observed.

Rosa found something quite quickly. On the side of the block, something was carved, scarring the marble’s perfection. She swung herself around to crouch before the side of the block, examining what her fingers had found.

Etched deeply into the marble were words. The language they were in caused Rosa to blink, momentarily thrown.

Allan leaned in beside her, frowning at the words. “What in the world is that?” he said.

Rosa looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Allan, we are royal spies in training. You should at least recognize the base language.” she said.

Allan traced the bewildering carvings with his fingertips, as if touching the words could somehow divulge their meaning. “I should, but I don’t.” he admitted.

Rosa smirked, feeling superior. “It’s elven. Very, very old elven.”

“Can you decipher it?” asked Allan.

“The words, yes. But the overall meaning? It’s like a riddle. I just can’t make it out.” Rosa said, her shoulders drooping in disappointment.

Allan gave her a sympathetic pat on the back, but allowed himself to feel quietly relieved.

Rosa’s disappointment shifted to frustration. She’d only be stationed here for another week, and she would never again get a chance to confirm her theory. She’d have to go over her books again, maybe she’d missed something.

“Rosa, we should go now.” Allan urged, his skittishness returning. He grasped her arm, insistent.

Rosa slapped her hand against the etchings one last time in sheer annoyance, using the force to push herself back onto her heels.

Under her push, the marble sank into itself, like a button.

Allan’s hand tightened on her arm.

Rosa stared.

With an alarmingly loud grating of stone on stone, the pillar’s side slid open, revealing it to be hollow. A narrow chute led down out of sight.

Rosa’s grin returned twofold, a manic fire igniting in her maroon eyes.

Noticing it, Allan tensed, laying both hands on his impetuous colleague’s arm. “Rosa, don’t you dare–”

Rosa slapped away his restraining hold and leapt down the chute.

Allan cursed, but followed without a second thought.

Darkness pressed in on Rosa, as well as the tight sides of the chute. She tucked her elbows and braced herself, excitement kindling.

Her bare feet hit something completely unexpected. Carpet?

Before her eyes could shift to allow her to see in the utter lack of light, a soundless rush overhead informed her that her colleague had followed her.

Rosa moved quickly out of the way, letting Allan drop safely at her side.

He instinctively reached for her in the total darkness. Finding her arm, he composed himself and shook out his glorious blonde curls.

At the action, a soft golden glow emanated from his hair, allowing him to see his surroundings.

Rosa, not needing the light of her colleague’s multipurpose mane, cast her now scarlet eyes to the floor, which was covered by a thick emerald carpet, then to the room in front of her.

She squealed.

Vast pillars, not unlike the marble ones from the hall they’d just left, rose up and out of sight into the shadowed ceiling. Except these pillars were square and stout, and made not of white marble, but of blonde wood. And each and every pillar was filled with books.

They were bookshelves! Countless, towering, narrow bookshelves, as far as the eye could see. The underground room was huge.

Rosa whirled to face Allan, her eyes, though bathed in alarming red light, were triumphant, awed and delighted. “I found it!” she proclaimed, beaming at him.

Allan smiled back, defenseless against her contagious delight. “You found it.” he agreed.

Rosa squealed again, darting amongst the woodland of tall bookcases. She wove through them in a dizzying dance, her hands brushing the spines of books that hadn’t been read in possibly centuries. She wasn’t sure where to start.

Allan took a more leisurely pace towards the nearest shelf, and selected a tome at random. Reading by the light of his luminous hair, he flipped through the undecayed pages, marvelling.

“Preservation spells. Definitely elven.” he observed aloud.

Rosa stopped her weaving dance to look at him questioningly.

“Elves, being the oldest immortal race next to the vampires, have long used preservation spells on their libraries and strongholds to protect their invaluable caches of knowledge.” Allen recited from memory in response to Rosa’s look.

Rosa nodded slowly, reaching for the shelf in front of her. “Makes sense.” she said.

She opened the black-covered book titled, in elven, The Dragon Alliance. It sounded like a storybook, but upon further inspection it was revealed to be records of the first alliance between the South Cyruthan elves and the Dragons of Fadis. Excited, she sank to the floor, dropping the book open in her lap.

Allan shut his own book with a snap. He took one look at his colleague sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor with a thick tome in her lap, as if she intended to read the entire thing in one sitting, and laughed.

Rosa tore her glowing red eyes away from the book, distracted by his uncharacteristic outburst. “What’s funny?” she asked.

“You.” Allan replied promptly. “You know we have to leave now, right?”

Rosa looked torn. “Y-es. But we’ll come back as much as we can over the week.” she declared with certainty.

Allan nodded in agreement. He replaced his book as Rosa regained her feet.

Rosa made to shut her book, but paused. She reached for her hair.

Allan watched as she pulled the violet ribbon out of her ponytail, letting her chestnut curls cascade down around her shoulders.

Rosa placed her ribbon carefully across the page of the book, before letting the cover fall closed and putting it reluctantly back on the shelf. She moved past Allan back to the chute, which hung low enough to be easily reachable.

Allan came to her side with an amused expression on his face.

Rosa gave him a look that said, What?

Allan shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just, you are one of the few people alive who possesses a perfectly flawless memory, and you still use bookmarks.”

Rosa looked away pointedly. She waved at the chute. “You can go up first in case there’s someone outside in the hall.”

Allan gave her a look, but obediently hefted himself up into the pillar, using his toes and the flat of his forearms to push and climb his way up the narrow space.

Rosa hesitated in his wake. She took one last glance around the underground library. Again, she bit her lip to hold her smile. She’d found it.

And if she had it her way, she’d soon be returning to the forgotten library.

~ by Helen Cryestira Viorel, 5th October, 2019

Artwork by pixundfertig

Glorious ~ A Poem

Author’s Note & Dedication: Not my usual poem. Less rhyme, more emotion. To my precious Andromeda and Nathaniel. I love you both. ~ H

Glorious ~ A Poem

Never has to end

Never need to leave

But darling what’s the point?

If you’re not next to me?

Golden silver grey

Bright and warm as day

Raven ochre dark

Shadowed cold and stark

My lips were never meant to kiss

My heart not made for love like this

I was given all the world

If I could only resist you

Opulence and decadence

Were promised to be mine

But I would cast it all away

To see you one last time

A day that need not ever end

Goodbyes that I need never say

A knife to my heart this promise though

For it never said you’d stay

I would choose you every time

If but my choice were really mine

Promise me you’ll look away

And forget all that I might say

Neglect, regret, I know these well

A thousand tales I’ll never tell

Not even to you

Not ever

You don’t need to know

I can still go

To keep you safe

Because that’s all I’ll ever do

If I have to stand between you and the world, I will

I will protect you with all that I am

I’m nothing but shadow and aether, and some shards of a long-broken heart

But if I’m capable of loving you

Then I’m a more glorious creature than I could have imagined.

~ Helen Cryestira Viorel, 24th August, 2019

Artwork by darksouls1

Midnight Beauty ~ A Poem

Author’s Note: I was deliriously tired when I wrote this, so it may sound… Delirious. ~ H

Midnight Beauty

Walking softly amidst the night

Her lips have turned from blue to white

A child as fair as the breaking dawn

Her feet are cold, her shoes are worn

Once she bore a radiant smile

But it has been gone for quite a while

Her lips have turned from grey to blue

Her eyes keep coming back to you

Amidst the night she lived and died

And now forever cursed to glide

She grew up over the years

A face of beauty to hide your fears

Her eyes once grey are crimson now

Upon cold lips she repeats a vow

“Too long now, I’ll never go

And earthly rest, I’ll never know.”

Follow her, it is your duty

They call her the Midnight Beauty

Reach out amidst the broken veil

Till joy is stagnant and warmth is stale

Her lips will whisper the same old song

Don’t hesitate, don’t leave her long

Midnight is no time for fear

If you call her name, you’ll hold her here

Midnight Beauty, queen of sorrow

Her starlit road you’ve sworn to follow

You call her name, she’s by your side

Her broken whispers to you confide

Reach for her hand and let her know

That she must stay and you won’t go

Deadly pale and cruelly cold

Is the lady’s hand that you will hold

Her eyes are empty of her song

Already broken yet so strong

Mortal life was never hers

No mortal song has reached her ears

Sing her a song and it will set her free

Beneath the crescent moon where the mist and starlight be

So go to the place where her footsteps tread the veil

Go find the Midnight Beauty, so lovely and so pale

The Midnight Beauty with whispers on her lips

Amidst the darkness where all the moonlight slips.

~ by Helen Cryestira Viorel, Friday, 19th July, 2019

Artwork by ariadne-a-mazed

“Regret Me Not” ~ Guinevere And Lancelot

“Regret Me Not”

Image from BBC’s Merlin starring Angel Coulby as Guinevere and Santiago Cabrera as Lancelot

Author’s note: This is based more on the older retellings of the Guinevere and Lancelot romance. In the BBC version (which I love) Guinevere is far more attached to Arthur. I wrote this for fun. I do not own the image. Lancelot is way cuter than Arthur. (well, he is). Thank you for reading my work! ~ H

Abide by law, true love does not

For passion, be all sense forgot

So goes the tale of Lancelot

Who loved the Queen of Camelot.

And Guinevere was too besot

By the raven eyes of Lancelot

King Arthur’s eyes entranced her not

Like the burning gaze of Lancelot.

By Cupid’s bow, both hearts were shot

The great romance of Camelot

Her husband, Guinevere forgot

To her lover said, “Regret me not.”

“The married Queen of Camelot

I love her and my honor not

For this sin, in Hell I’ll rot

But regret her, I shall not.”

So mused the smitten Lancelot

Upon his soul no guilt would blot

The joyous spell of love begot

By his lovely Queen of Camelot.

Now King Arthur of Camelot

Had eyes blue as forget-me-not

But the raven eyes of Lancelot

Sang to the Queen, “Regret me not.”

So at the death of Camelot

When all that’s good was laid to rot

Sweet Guinevere and Lancelot

Had loved too deep to be forgot.

True love works by no way of plot

Some things are better done than not

Though sinful, they were ne’er forgot

Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot.

Blue as the fair forget-me-not

Was the sky of fallen Camelot

Dead were the Queen and Lancelot

And still they sang, “Regret me not.”

~ Helen Cryestira Viorel, Monday, July 8th, 2019

Image belongs to BBC